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CFL adds eighth official whose job is to watch QB for hits to the head

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Brandon Bridge (16) is brought down by Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat (94) during second half CFL action in Regina. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 23-18 on Sunday, Nov 11, 2018. Matt Smith/CFL

The Canadian Football League is adding an extra official on the field for this weekend’s Eastern and Western finals as well as the upcoming 106th Grey Cup.

The league announced Thursday that the new official’s job will be specifically to watch for hits to the head or neck of a quarterback.

The change comes after a controversial high hit to Saskatchewan player Brandon Bridge in a semi-final game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“It’s very important that this sort of potentially dangerous play is penalized on the field in addition to being subject to supplementary discipline,” said CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

“Not only is it important to the integrity of the game, it can act as a deterrent.”

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Ambrosie said the new official – the eighth on-field – will act as an additional set of eyes with a strictly defined mandate.

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If the eighth official sees a hit to the head or neck, they’ll alert the head referee, who can then assess a roughing penalty. The new role is going to be filled by someone who has previous experience as a head referee.

“After the Grey Cup, we’ll assess this change as part of a complete review of what we’re doing, and what else might be done to protect quarterbacks and improve health and safety for all our players,” said Ambrosie.

“The addition of an eighth official may prove to be an interim step. It may become part of a broader package of reforms.

“The process of improving player health and safety is very important to us and it never ends.”

WATCH: This Winnipeg Blue Bombers employee won’t retire until they win Grey Cup

Click to play video: 'This Winnipeg Blue Bombers employee won’t retire until they win Grey Cup'
This Winnipeg Blue Bombers employee won’t retire until they win Grey Cup

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